A teenager from Southfields has been labelled a ‘hero’ and given a £5,000 prize live on television after his work with the flood relief efforts in the UK.
16-year-old Zafar Ahmad was presented with the ‘Flood Hero’ award, alongside four other people, on ITV’s Daybreak earlier this week before being given a cash prize, by Sir Richard Branson, to go towards his chosen charity.
During the most recent half term holidays in February, Zafar made the most of his free time and volunteered with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association's (AMYA) flood relief campaign, joining hundreds of volunteers in assisting families affected by the floods around the country.
The young volunteer spent almost every day helping however he could, whether filling and delivering sandbags, or helping with the massive clean-up operation of the St. Paul's Church in Staines.
Jamal Akbar, one of the AMYA Regional coordinators for Charity, Community and Welfare Programmes, was so moved by Zafar's selflessness that he put his name forward for this special recognition.
“In my mind, everyone who helped out with the flood relief efforts is a flood hero, whether they are from our own community, the local residents, the Army or the local Sikh community who helped in Staines,” he said.
“The reason I nominated Zafar was because of his selfless dedication of time and his passion to just get out there and help in whatever capacity he could.
“I don’t know many 16-year-olds who would do that during their holidays. I’m very proud that he got through as there were over 120 nominations across the country.”
Zafar added: “It was a humbling experience to see those who are affected, but I am glad that the communities quickly came together to help.
“I don't consider what I did to be special, but simply fulfilment of my religious duty as a British Muslim to serve my country. Nevertheless, I greatly appreciate this award, ITV for highlighting the floods and the kindness of Mr. Richard Branson.
“I hope those people affected can get back to their normal life soon. We all have a duty to help them.”
Zafar has also now been invited to a reception at 10 Downing Street with his fellow award winners in recognition of their tremendous work, yet his volunteering efforts don’t stop there.
Later this year, on the 4th May, he will be participating in the annual AMYA 10K run in Battersea Park, and you can help sponsor him by visiting www.justgiving.com/Zafar-Ahmad-2014.